Friday, May 30, 2014

Spark a Reaction! / ¡Enciende una Reacción!

Our Summer Reading Program begins tomorrow, Saturday, May 31st, and runs until July 25th! There will be kick-off parties at many branches tomorrow - check our Summer Reading events tab for listings or call your local branch.

Summer Reading is for everyone! Click on the links below for lists of events, prizes, and more! You can even register online.
Please note that this year, tweens and teens will receive a weekly incentive when they bring in their reading logs, and can earn grand prize drawing entries by attending special events held at library branches.

Even if you miss the kick-off, all ages can still sign up for Summer Reading any time during the program, collect weekly prizes, attend events, fill out a "library passport" (visit different library branches and get entered to win a fantastic family prize), and get entered in our grand prize drawings for tweens and older. Visit our Summer Reading guide for more information.

It's going to be a great summer! Please join us!

Thursday, May 29, 2014


It's that time of year again.  Time for the Scripps National Spelling Bee!  Started in 1925, this annual tradition is going strong with 281 finalists this year.  The last winner from New Mexico was Blake Giddens in 1983 with the word "Purim".

Photo Credit
You can explore behind the scenes with the Oscar nominated documentary Spellbound, which follows competitors of the 1999 spelling bee through preparation and the finals.  There's also the more mainstream Akeelah and the Bee.

The spelling bee can draw on words from all languages, but if your interest is whetted, the library has a number of books on etymology, including:

Spell It Out: the Curious, Enthralling and Extraordinary Story of English Spelling
Spellbound : the Surprising Origins and Astonishing Secrets of English Spelling
Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: the Untold History of English
Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 pages.

Lastly, there's always The Professor and the Madman about the collaboration which led to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Last year's winning word was "knaidel".  Tune in to ESPN at 6 p.m. (or watch the live stream) to watch the finals and root for this year's stellar spellers!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Phenomenal Woman

Author and poet Dr. Maya Angelou passed away today after a long illness.  Ms. Angelou's words have filled the lives and libraries of those in New Mexico and around the world.  She won many awards and inspired even more.

Although lives can rarely be reduced to sound bites, many of her notable quotations can be found, including these from Huffington Post and Buzzfeed.

The library has several works by her, including "I know why the caged bird sings" as well as biographies.

She is survived by her son Guy Johnson.  Mr. Johnson was once asked if he ever felt he had grown up in her shadow, to which he responded that he "grew up in her light."  We are lucky that we also got to share in that light and today honor this Phenomenal Woman.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New and Novel Graphic Novels

Long dismissed as a less serious art form, graphic novels have finally started to gain more mainstream credibility over the last 20 years... The world of the graphic novel is one that spans a wide range of authors, artists, styles, and subject matter... While the distinction between graphic novels and comic books gets dicey (the term “graphic novel” was only introduced in the late 1970s), for [our] purposes...they are lengthier, meatier book-like works — and they’re all brilliant for both their literary and visual merit.
~ , "25 Essential Graphic Novels"

Graphic novels are a genre close to my reading heart. While I confess to a lack of expertise in the field of manga and only a nodding acquaintance with superhero comics (and I welcome your recommendations on these subjects!), I love to read all sorts of other graphic novels.  Sometimes other adults ask, "What's the appeal?" It's hard to pin down into words.  I've long been an avid comic reader, starting with Tintin, Asterix, Bloom County, Calvin & Hobbes, Doonesbury, and Archie back in my childhood, so I've always been drawn to the medium. Perhaps it is just the combination of "literary and visual merit" in the quote above - words and pictures on the page together managing to appeal to both my English major's love of literature and my sense of aesthetics (I am very picky about the art in graphic novels in much the same way a bad reader can ruin an audiobook for me).

I asked a couple of friends what the appeal of comics was to them. We discussed whether or not, as one person said, reading comics is "like a combination of reading a book and watching a movie". Sometimes a comic will contain extras such as a copy the writer's working "script" before the art is added, and one friend was quite interested in how the comic's writer seemed to be storyboarding the action for the illustrator, including instructions such as "The scene has shifted to the next day, so the characters should be wearing different clothes". We agreed that reading comics and/or graphic novels is a fast medium, and details are easily absorbed visually.  Even though you are still only using one sense, sight, with comics you take in more sensory detail.  As another friend said:

You can do that with comics, create that immersion and empathy.  That gutter I mentioned [the space between the panels where the reader's imagination completes the story] is part of why.  Your brain is being stimulated, through language and image, to experience with all your senses, as well as emotionally, psychologically, spiritually, whatever-allys the comic's creators are adept enough to reach.  The reader in the gutter is the one actually pulling it all together, fitting the pieces of the puzzle, participating in its creation.  The comic itself is just a series of guideposts, instructions for a scavenger hunt - turn the corner here, shuffle that cobblestone, watch for the rusty nail - too late!, and then what's next?

Alas, one my friends said when he tried to suggest a graphic novel to his book club, almost none of the club's members read it and a few who tried were confused by the genre - they professed to not understand how to read comics, or at least to not understand how to follow the action from panel to panel across the page. I guess there will always be people who don't like or don't get the appeal of comics, but those who do can be pretty diehard - Albuquerque alone has two comic book conventions and at least seven dedicated comic stores.

Others sometimes ask, "What's the difference between comics and graphic novels?" Wikipedia defines the difference thusly:

A graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. Although the word "novel" normally refers to long fictional works, the term "graphic novel" is applied broadly, and includes fiction, non-fiction, and anthologized work. It is distinguished from the term "comic book", which is used for comics periodicals.

That definition can be a point of contention. Writers such as Alan Moore (Watchmen), Jeff Smith (Bone), and Neil Gaiman (Sandman) have objected to the term "graphic novel" as unnecessary and/or pretentious. The author Douglas Wolk said:

Comics are not prose. Comics are not movies. They are not a text-driven medium with added pictures; they're not the visual equivalent of prose narrative or a static version of a film. They are their own thing: a medium with its own devices, its own innovators, its own clichés, its own genres and traps and liberties. The first step toward attentively reading and fully appreciating comics is acknowledging that. 

Whether you want to call them graphic novels or comics, there are a lot of good ones out there on a lot of different topics.  There are graphic (or "visual") memoirs and biographies, graphic short story collections, classics of the canon adapted to a graphic format.  There is a graphic version of the U.S. Constitution. There are graphic versions of Game of Thrones, the Millennium Trilogy, and Laurell Hamilton's Anita Blake series for adults, and graphic versions of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children and Blue Bloods for teens. Don't hesitate to check the graphic novel bounty available in the library catalog - a search of "graphic novels" is easy-peasy in Encore, and using the categories in the left sidebar (format, collection, tag) will help you to limit your search!

For your convenience, we have compiled a list of graphic novels from the library catalog to get you started - some new, some novel, some both. The graphic novels listed are recommended for young adult to adult readers, unless otherwise noted. 

Climate Changed: A Personal Journey Through the Science by Philippe Squarzoni

The Red Ruby by Lars Jakobsen [YA]

On the Ropes by James Vance and Dan E. Burr

Persia Blues: Volume 1 by Dara Naraghi & Brent Bowman

Rage of Poseidon by Anders Nilsen

The Property by Rutu Modan

The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg

Bad Houses by Sara Ryan

World Map Room by Yuichi Yokoyama

Incidents in the Night: Bk 1 by David B.

Fanny & Romeo by Yves Pelletier, Pascal Girard

Mind the Gap - Vol. 1 : Intimate Strangers by Jim McCann

The Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire

A Game for Swallows: To Die, To Leave, To Return by Zeina Abirached [YA]

Little White Duck: A Childhood in China by Na Liu and Andrés Vera Martínez (J)

Steve Jobs: Genius By Design by Jason Quinn

Corto Maltese: The Ballad of the Salt Sea by Hugo Pratt

Dominique Laveau, Voodoo Child - Volume 1: Requiem by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds

Lily Renée, Escape Artist: From Holocaust Survivor to Comic Book Pioneer by Trina Robbins (J)

Vietnamerica: A Family's Journey by GB Tran

Bad Habits: A Love Story by Cristy C. Road [eBook]

The Rime of the Modern Mariner by Nick Hayes

Miss Don't Touch Me by Hubert

Berlin: City of Stones by Jason Lutes

Howl: A Graphic Novel by Allen Ginsberg

Bandette: In Presto! by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover (J)
The Comic Book History of Comics  by Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey

If you are a fan of this genre, the Lomas Tramway Library has a Graphic Novel Club for Adults!


2014 Eisner Award Nominees   

The Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards are considered the “Oscars” of the comics world. Named for the pioneering comics creator and graphic novelist Will Eisner, the awards are given out in more than two dozen categories during a ceremony each year at Comic-Con International: San Diego. 

Saturday, May 24, 2014

What's in a Title?

After doing a blog series about judging books by their covers, I started thinking about book titles. Some titles stand out more than others, and I often find myself reading things (or not reading things) based on their titles. Here are ten of my favorite young adult book titles.

Note: For this post, I'm not showing the book covers. I think it's important to let the titles stand on their own when it comes to judging them.

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

What isn't intriguing about this title? I want to know who is writing love letters to the dead and why, and why the letters are love letters.

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

When I look at this title, all I can think is, "This has to be good."

If We Survive by Andrew Klavan

If we survive what? The zombie apocalypse? A toronado? A shipwreck? This title is full of possibilities.

I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga

Why? What could possibly make someone want to hunt killers? Unless the person hunting killers is in law enforcement, I want to know more about who's hunting killers and why.

What We Saw at Night by Jacquelyn Mitchard

What you see at night is likely very different than what you see during the day. Of course I want to know what they saw at night, and why they were even awake late at night.

#scandal by Sarah Ockler

Hashtags are becoming more and more common--they aren't just on Twitter anymore. The fact that this title is a hashtag makes me curious about what the scandal is, and why it's gone viral.

The Book of Broken Hearts by Sarah Ockler

With a title like this, the story is bound to be good.

Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

It's hard not to assume that this book is about Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz. What I want to know is, what did she do that was so awful she deserves to die?

My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pitcher

This is another title that easily leads to assumptions about the book. Even though I can figure out why the sister lives on the mantelpiece, I want to know how she got there and what it means for her family.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight, and Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor

I'm cheating a little, since I'm counting three titles as one. It's impossible not to love all the titles in Laini Taylor's series. They definitely make me want to know more about the books.

What are your favorite book titles?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

If you like Game of Thrones...

HBO's Game of Thrones gallops apace through Season 4!  If you are a fan, we can't recommend highly enough George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire books, on which the series is based.  However, if you've already read all the books (we're on tenterhooks for the next title, The Winds of Winter - still no release date listed on Martin's website, but he has been tantalizing us with excerpts!) or perhaps want to skip the books to avoid spoilers, we have compiled a list of some other titles that might tickle your fancy.

Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners by Ellen Kushner

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin [eBook]

Acacia by David Anthony Durham

Dune by Frank Herbert

A Cruel Wind: A Chronicle of the Dread Empire by Glen Cook [eBook]

Gardens of the Moon: Book One of the Malazan Book of the Fallen by Steven Erikson

The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie

Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey

Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Assassin's Apprentice by Robin Hobb [eBook]

Looking for more readalikes?  If you search for books from the series in the catalog, you can scroll down past the "Copy Status/ More Details/Find Similar Items"  to find Reader Ratings and Reviews, a list of Books in the Series, and You Might Also Like These...Series, Titles, and Authors!

Of interest to Game of Thrones fans

A Game of Thrones - Volume 1: The Graphic Novel by George R.R. Martin

The Hedge Knight: The Graphic Novel by George R.R. Martin

A Feast of Ice and Fire: The Official Companion Cookbook by Chelsea Monroe-Cassel and Sariann Lehrer [eBook]

Inside HBO's Game of Thrones by Bryan Cogman

Game of Thrones DVDs

A Song of Ice and Fire


What Will Be The Next 'Game of Thrones?' We've Got Some Ideas

Goodreads: Popular Game of Thrones Readalikes

Monday, May 19, 2014

Happy 100th Birthday Studs Terkel

Studs Terkel was born on May 16, 1912 in New York City. He was a prolific journalist, radio interviewer, and oral historian, who authored numerous books. Studs Terkel won two Pulitzer Prizes for his books: Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974) and The Good War: An Oral History of World War II (1984). Studs Terkel started his career in the New Deal's WPA (Works Progress Administration) Writers Division in radio. Terkel attributed his excellent interviewing skills to listening respectfully to his subjects. He focused on topics such as The Great Depression, American history, work, jazz, civil rights, and spirituality. Terkel died on October 31, 2008 in Chicago, Illinois.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Minding Our P's & Q's

Celebrate National Etiquette Week on May 14 -18, 2014. This week focuses on etiquette and protocol in every area of life - business, social, dining, travel, weddings, and online life. It is a week to celebrate and focus on kindness, civility, manners, gratitude, and respect for each other. Our library offers a plethora of classic and contemporary tomes of propriety that will address everything from table manners to technology.

Emily Post's the Etiquette Advantage in Business, 3rd edition : Personal Skills for Professional Success by Peter Post with Anna Post, Lizzie Post and Daniel Post Senning

Emily Post's Etiquette by Peggy Post

Talk To the Hand : The Utter Bloody Rudeness Of the World Today, Or, Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door by Lynne Truss

Essential Manners For Men: What To Do, When to Do It, and Why by Peter Post

Letitia Baldrige's More Than Manners! : Raising Today's Kids to Have Kind Manners and Good Hearts by Letitia Baldrige

Miss Manners'® Guide To a Surprisingly Dignified Wedding by Judith Martin, Jacobina Martin

Miss Manners' Guide to Domestic Tranquility : The Authoritative Manual for Every Civilized Household, However Harried by Judith Martin

Miss Manners Rescues Civilization : From Sexual Harrassment, Frivolous Lawsuits, Dissing, and Other Lapses In Civility by Judith Martin, illustrations by Daniel Mark Duffy

Multicultural Manners : New Rules Of Etiquette For a Changing Society by Norine Dresser

Social Q's : How to Survive the Quirks, Quandaries, and Quagmires of Today by Philip Galanes.

An Uncommon History of Common Courtesy : How Manners Shaped the World by Bethanne Patrick

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Star Light, Star Bright

Star light, star bright
First star I see tonight.
I wish I may, I wish I might,
Have this wish I wish tonight.

May 10 was Astronomy Day, which celebrates the skies and encourages everyone to look up at the night sky.

Light pollution is a result of the artificial lights which accompany human habitation.  The world is getting ever brighter and with that, the wonders of the night sky become harder to see.  One of the delights of living in New Mexico is that we have unusually dark skies.  New Mexico falls 45th in population density, which means fewer people and their light to obscure the stars.  The legislature has also passed The Night Sky Protection Act, to help ensure the preservation of this resource.

Globally there are only nine certified sites which meet the gold standard set by the International Dark-Sky Association.  New Mexico is home to two of these special sites.  One of them is Clayton Lake State Park which is only the 2nd park in the nation to build, maintain and operate a telescope.  The other, newly certified, site is Chaco Cultural National Historic Park.  Each of these sites hosts stargazing events and are prime places to enjoy astronomical phenomenon, such as meteor showers.

Locally, The Albuquerque Astronomical Society has events, including stargazing parties.  Details and more information is available on their website (TAAS).  If staying up late doesn't work well for you, get lost in the Planetarium at the Natural History Museum.

If you have a spot of dark sky and want to stargaze on your own, there are books available in the 520 section of the Non Fiction of your favorite branch.  There are Nightly sky watch alerts, letting you know about upcoming astronomical phenomenon.  There are also Night maps which you can print and take with you.  Lastly, there are apps which can be downloaded to your phone and tell you which constellation is above you.  If you point your phone at the ground, some of them will tell you which constellations are at that location in the southern hemisphere.

Enjoy the wonder of this valuable natural resource which the Land of Enchantment is lucky to have.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Mothers in Literature

Photo Credit

With Mother's Day this past Sunday, we've been looking at examples of Mothers in Literature.  From cozy, sweet mothers like Kanga in Winnie The Pooh to some of less savory fare.

Starting with the above illustration and going left to right, there is Mrs. Bennet from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.  She is an indomitable force in the battle for eligible husbands.

Next comes the Evil Queen from Snow White.  From the eponymous Evil Step Mother murderous plots emerge in a doomed battle of beauty.

Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina is third, with her heart wrenching decision between her son and her lover.  Fourth is Olive Kitteridge and  her self-induced sabotage in regards to the relationship with her son.  Lastly, Lily Benewski in Geek Love and her enthusiasm in intentionally producing elite carnival freaks.

Not pictured, but included in our pantheon of Literary Mothers are:

Ma in Emma Donoghue's Room.
Emma Bovary in Gustave Flaubert's Madame Bovary.
Queen Gertrude in William Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Mother/ Stepmother in The Brothers Grimm's Hansel and Gretel.
Corinne Dollanganger from V.C. Andrews' Flowers in the Attic.
Petal from Annie Proulx' The Shipping News.
Mother in Sapphire's Push.
The Other Mother in Neil Gaiman's Coraline.
Grendel's Mother in Beowulf.
Mrs. Wormwood in Roald Dahl's Matilda.
Caroline Ingalls from Laura Ingalls' Little House on the Prairie.
Molly Weasley from J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter.

Good, bad, evil, indifferent, doting, smothering, neglectful, we remember and imagine all mothers today and their depictions in literature.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

We Need Diverse Books Campaign

From May 1 to May 3, a campaign titled We Need Diverse Books was launched on Twitter and Tumblr by activists and writers. The campaign focused on children's and young adult literature, and quickly went viral. For information about the campaign, visit the official Tumblr page. Today, I'm sharing some of my favorite young adult books that celebrate diversity.

Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow

With the encouragement of one of her teachers, a Chinese American high school senior asserts herself against her demanding, old-school mother and carves out an identity for herself in late 1980s San Francisco.

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Gabe has always identified as a boy, but he was born with a girl's body. With his new public access radio show gaining in popularity, Gabe struggles with romance, friendships, and parents--all while trying to come out as transgendered. An audition for a station in Minneapolis looks like his ticket to a better life in the big city. But his entire future is threatened when several violent guys find out Gabe, the popular DJ, is also Elizabeth from school.

The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth

In the early 1990s, when gay teenager Cameron Post rebels against her conservative Montana ranch town and her family decides she needs to change her ways, she is sent to a gay conversion therapy center.

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

In an instant, Bea felt almost normal with Beck, and as if she could fall in love again, but things change when the psychotherapist who has been helping her deal with past romantic relationships puts her in a group with Beck--a group for teens with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Butter by Erin Jade Lange

Unable to control his binge eating, a morbidly obese teenager nicknamed Butter decides to make live webcast of his last meal as he attempts to eat himself to death.

Trafficked by Kim Purcell

A seventeen-year-old Moldovan girl whose parents have been killed is brought to the United States to work as a slave for a family in Los Angeles.

The Summer I Wasn't Me by Jessica Verdi

Ever since her mom found out she was in love with a girl, seventeen-year-old Lexi's afraid that what's left of her family is going to fall apart for good. New Horizons summer camp promises a new life for Lexi--she swears she can change. She can learn to like boys. But denying her feelings is harder than she thinks.

Even though it ended last Saturday, the campaign is still going strong. Check it out--and let us know in the comments what your favorite diverse books are!

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Mike Madrid, author of two fabulous books on women in comics, describes himself as "a lifelong fan of comic books and popular culture" on his website. In an interview with the SFGate, he says he was drawn to females in comics because he "felt that they were allowed to have more developed personalities than a lot of the men in comics. A lot of the men had to be brave and fearless, and that was the extent of it, but women could have that and show more emotion." It was while researching his first book, The Supergirls, that he discovered the lesser-known heroines he showcases in his second book, Divas, Dames, & Daredevils.  "The characters are really a snapshot of what the comic book industry was like when it first started at its inception," Madrid says in the same SFGates interview. These forgotten heroines "reflected the very experimental nature of comics in the early days of the medium." Find his fun and informative books in the library catalog:

A cultural history of comic book heroines. Is their world of fantasy different from our own-- or an alternative saga of modern American women?

The topics discussed in the book include: Goddesses of tomorrow -- 1940's: a secret life -- The queen & the princess -- 1950's: the girlfriends -- Supergirl and the ballad of American youth -- 1960's: the modern world -- Girls together (outrageously) -- 1970's: sirens & suffragettes -- Wonder Woman's extreme makeovers -- 1980's: the dark road -- Sex and the single superheroine -- 1990's: the babe years -- Heroine chic -- 2000 and beyond: mother love?
~from the library catalog

Divas, Dames & Daredevils: Lost Heroines of Golden Age Comics 

"After 'Supergirls' was published, I began hearing from readers. Many had no idea that the history of comic books stretched back to the late 1930s.  They told me that reading 'Supergirls' made them want to learn more about the early comics, and specifically about the female characters that appeared in them," Mike Madrid explains in "Golden Years", the opening essay of Divas, Dames & Daredevils. He continues, "While there are a number of heroines I would like to have included in [this] collection...I focused on the ones that I have dubbed as 'lost'. These are characters you may have heard of, but whose stories you never had the chance to read.  Or they may be women who only made a few appearances and then disappeared. They may have been lost, but you will find they are definitely unforgettable." 

Each section of the book contains one complete black and white comic adventure of each heroine! Sections include: Women at War, featuring Pat Parker, War Nurse, Madame Strange, and Pat Patriot; Mystery Women, featuring Spider Queen, Mother Hubbard, and the Veiled Avenger; Daring Dames, including Penny Wright, Feature Writer, Betty Bates, Lady at Law, Jill Trent, Science Sleuth, and Calamity Jane; 20th Century Goddesses, featuring Fantomah, Mystery Woman of the Jungle, Marga the Panther Woman, Diana the Huntress, and Maureen Marine; and Warriors and Queens, including The Sorceress of Zoom, Gale Allen and the Girl Squadron, and Mysta of the Moon.

We are big fans of both these books here at abcreads - hope you will enjoy them too! Fun reads for anybody interested in comics and their history.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ivan Ramen

My fervent hope is to get Americans to enjoy ramen as a dish, along with all the rituals that surround it. Ramen must be eaten quickly, while it's very hot... You have to eat it while the fat is still smoking hot and the noodles are still chewy. You take a big airy slurp so that all the flavors come together as they enter your mouth.
~Ivan Orkin

A good friend recently recommended Ivan Orkin's Ivan Ramen: Love, Obsession, and Recipes from Tokyo's Most Unlikely Noodle Joint to us, saying "That book made me want a hot bowl of fatty pork ramen."  We thought "Cool!" and added it to our list of cookbooks to check out at a later date.  That was a mistake.

Ivan Ramen is not just a cookbook! The first half is a memoir, explaining how a Jewish kid from Long Island ended up with his own restaurant in Tokyo, serving ramen to the likes of Ohsaki-san, "godfather of the ramen world" and Tokyo's most feared ramen critic, appearing on the TV show of Minoru Sano (Sano-san or "The Ramen Devil" - Japan's Gordon Ramsay), and starting his own line of instant ramen. As if the story of how Ivan got to Japan (it wasn't really because he loved the movie Tampopo, but you should watch it anyway) and his immersion in Japanese culture weren't enough of a treat, then come the recipes.

Shio ramen is "the gold standard" of Ivan Ramen restaurants, and it's the heart of the cookbook portion of this book. The first recipe is "The Complete Bowl", but actually you should only look at that recipe after you've prepared and assembled your "ramen components" - Fat, Shio Tare, Katsuobushi Salt, Double Soup, Toasted Rye Noodles, Pork Belly Chashu - and the recipes for these follow "The Complete Bowl". It's going to be more time-consuming than your supermarket Pot Noodle, for sure, but after reading about it you will be determined to produce it (we are!).

Many of the other recipes are suggestions for what to do with your "ramen component" leftovers - katsu (fried, breaded pork cutlets), teriyaki, ozoni (a New Year's specialty soup) - which seem very handy, and there are also some other ramen variations - even Four Cheese Mazemen (noodles served with just a little soup; the cheeses are Edam, Parmesan, Mozzarella, and Monterey Jack) and Breakfast Yakisoba - and recipes for a few sides and sweets.

We think that after you read this book, you, too, will want to try some ramen, if not make some yourself!  Look for a list of Albuquerque's ramen restaurants in the links below. Happy reading and happy eating!


Ivan Ramen website

Ivan Ramen NYC Tumblr

"Ivan Orkin: Ramen Genius"

"A Life of Noodles Comes Full Circle"

Ramen Restaurants in Albuquerque on Yelp

"Oh yeah, O Ramen House is the real deal"

Friday, May 2, 2014

A Word with Writers

Bookworks and the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation are collaborating on a new lecture series, A Word with Writers, which will feature writers in conversation with one another. The inaugural lecture, featuring sci-fi/fantasy authors George R.R. Martin and Diana Gabaldon, is May 10th at 7pm, at the KiMo Theater. Martin and Gabaldon, in addition to being the the highly successful authors of their own series (Song of Ice and Fire and Outlander), also collaborated on the anthology Dangerous Women, along with other authors such as Melinda Snodgrass, Sherilynn Kenyon, and Joe R. Lansdale.

Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Albuquerque Public Library Foundation. The Foundation, a 501(c)(3), nonprofit organization, is dedicated to the vitality of the Albuquerque Public Library System by raising funds to enrich programs and services essential to literacy and learning.

To buy tickers for this event, visit the KiMo Theater website.  To read more about the event, check out the event listing on the Bookworks website.